Review: Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

I do not read a lot of YA contemporary. I’m not sure exactly why. I think it has to do with the fact that I just prefers fantasy books, or at least a little bit of magical in my stories. And I must admit that I probably have preconceived ideas about the genre (or maybe I was just unlucky), but it just always seemed to me that these books either contained way too much teenage romance, or way too much teenage angst for my taste.
Fortunately, I sometimes make exceptions  and I’m sure glad I did for this book. Jellicoe Road, by Australian author Melina Marchetta, took me by surprise and, yes, occasionally took my breath away. Funny thing is that I actually had another of Marchetta’s book on my to-read list, a fantasy novel called Finnikin of the Rock, but I went for the contemporary novel first (mostly after reading Angie's - of Angieville - glowing review at the end of 2010). And I sure do not regret that decision.

Jellicoe Road is mostly the story of Taylor Markham. At age eleven, Taylor was abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road. Now, a few years later, Taylor attends the Jellicoe boarding school in the Australian outback and is the reluctant leader of her House and of her school against the Cadets and the Townies, who spends every Fall trying to claim as much territory as they can.

More importantly though, Taylor has Hannah. Hannah, who takes care of her since the day her mother left her, and when Hannah disappears, Taylor feels it’s time to unravels the past and find answers to the questions that inhabits her life. Interwoven with Taylors’s story is the story of five friends, linked together by love, tragedy and dreams.

Jellicoe Road is first and foremost a book about friendship and the families we build for ourselves, not necessarily bound by blood, but bound by love and life. Taylor’s story takes us on a journey through pain and joy and forgiveness. It is full of longing. There are moments of pure happiness that made me laugh out loud and smile from ear to ear in my room, while others brought tears in my eyes and twisted my heart in my chest. Melina Marchetta’s prose is beautiful, but never overbearing, flowing from events to events. Her characters are well-rounded and I found that I could love all of them because they were strong and fragile and true and decidedly human. It would be a disservice to give too much away, but I highly recommend this book and I will definitely look up Marchetta’s other novels.


  1. I have actually just read this book myself. It was a gorgeous story and I just fell in love with it. It's not the type of book I would normally pick up for myself, but I've been wanting to expand my literary horizons and there were a lot of good reviews on it. I'm so glad that I did because I think people are really missing out if they don't read this novel. I definitely plan to read more by Miss Marchetta. :)

  2. Yes, I'm not a big contemporary fiction person myself either. If I do pick one up, it's usually because the cover has won me over or, more often, there still seems to be a bit of quirkiness to it.

    Marchetta's book looks really interesting. I think I would enjoy reading it :)

  3. Wow, I'm quite surprised that an Australian author is known overseas! (I'm Australian, by the way.) Melina Marchetta is really well-known over here, I'm so glad that she is being read internationally, too. 'Finnikin on the Rock' is her first attempt at fantasy, it's worth a read but it's not as great as her young adult fiction books -- which is her strongest genre and her most familiar genre. Her most well-known book is 'Looking for Alibrandi' -- I highly recommend it. It's my favourite of hers. 'Jellicoe Road' is my second-favourite of hers. I'm glad you enjoyed it, MJ. :)